Last time we covered the first two of the Ten Commandments.
Today I’d like to focus further on the 2nd Commandment…
Exodus 20:1–4 (ESV)
20 And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
We should notice that these two commands have the worship of the true God at their heart. To have a god is by definition to worship it. So, we must make sure we are worshipping the true God and not some cheap imposter.
To make a god is for the purpose of worship.
To see something in creation and bow down to it is worship.
Through the text by definition, an idol is something made by man. Later this command is expanded to also include anything in creation that God has made.
Idolatry blurs the distinction between the Creator and His creation.
Isaiah 42:8 (ESV)
8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.
Israel was continually worshipping idols. It came to the point in the Book of Isaiah when God would pass judgement upon them for their idolatry.
What is the judgement for Idolatry?
Psalm 115:4–11 (ESV)
4 Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
5 They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
6 They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
7 They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
8 Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
9 O Israel, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
10 O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
11 You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord!
He is their help and their shield.
The judgement for Idolatry is that God makes the Idolater like the Idol he worships. The idol is deaf and dumb and the worshipper becomes like what he worships.
GK Beale in his book on Idolatry says it this way, What people revere they resemble for ruin or restoration.
If you worship idols then you become like the idol you worship…deaf and dumb spiritually.
If you worship God then you become more and more like Him…able to discern and see clearly what’s going on around you.
This may very well be what’s plaguing our society today?
You see the stark difference between an idol and God? Let’s look together for a few minutes at the complete folly of idolatry.
Isaiah 44:9–20 (ESV)
9 All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. 10 Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.
12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”
18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
What is the folly here that Isaiah highlights?
Half of the log is used for heat, to cook with and to stay warm and the other half is used to carve an idol from for worship.
We see the foolishness of idolatry. Men fashion idols out of material either they cast it out of bronze or the fashion it out of wood. It’s just metal. It’s just wood. Wood is useful to cook over when it caught on fire. It has other uses but it’s foolish to worship something that man has made.
Idolatry goes deeper than that. When we worship creation; either the works of our hands or God’s creation we are pretending to be God. It’s the age-old lie of the devil…I will be like the Most High, he said.
God creates and forms and controls His creation. When we worship idols, we are pretending to be God and we think that we can control the idol. We can set it up or knock it over we control it because its lifeless.
Let’s look at God’s judgement of Israel for her Idolatry. Isaiah shows us the complete holiness of God as compared to Israel’s idolatry…
Isaiah 6:1–13 (ESV)
6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:
“ ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”
11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 And though a tenth remain in it,
it will be burned again,
like a terebinth or an oak,
whose stump remains
when it is felled.”
The holy seed is its stump.
God’s judgement is what Beale calls organ malfunction language. Eyes that can’t see, ears that can’t hear etc.
Israel’s judgement is that she has become what she worships.
Isaiah 42:17–20 (ESV)
17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
“You are our gods.”
18 Hear, you deaf,
and look, you blind, that you may see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
or deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as my dedicated one,
or blind as the servant of the Lord?
20 He sees many things, but does not observe them;
his ears are open, but he does not hear.
Because we resemble what we revere for restoration or ruin, when God judges idol worshippers they cannot detect the fact that they are worshipping false gods. God has given them a delusion for judgement.
This is very similar language that Paul uses in Romans 1:18ff
They knew about God; it was plain to them. They worshipped idols…creatures and ascribed glory to their idols. So, God gave them up. These idol worshippers have forfeited all discernment and are simply chasing after animal lusts…God gave them up to their lusts, men with men and women with women. God gives them up and now society at large is affirming all who practice these things.
So, if an Idolater has had all their discernment removed, they can’t comprehend spiritual things how then can they ever be redeemed?
Ephesians 2:1–10 (ESV)
2 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
God can also relent for Christ’s sake and extend to us mercy and grace. Praise His name for Jesus! If you are beginning to see your idolatry for what it is. Then that means God by grace is giving you understanding. Come to Christ today and be saved!